President Shares Holiday Joy with Soldiers as Israel Marks Feast of Weeks During Conflict

President Rivlin visiting soldiers ahead of the Festival of Weeks with a traditional holiday cheesecake. Photo courtesy of Mark Neyman (Israeli GPO)

As rockets from Gaza terrorists continued to rain down on Israel on Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin literally shared a taste of holiday cheer with soldiers defending the country to help them mark the start of the Feast of Weeks holiday. The festival—known in Hebrew as Shavuot and also referred to as Pentecost—marks the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and is traditionally a season of great joy.

With the shroud of war covering the nation as the holiday was poised to begin on Sunday night, Rivlin shared a traditional holiday cheesecake with soldiers working an Iron Dome missile defense battery who couldn’t celebrate Shavuot at home. Rivlin, according to an Israeli press release, thanked the soldiers for their defense of the country and let them know sharing the festive dessert was a tradition of Rivlin’s late wife, Nechama.

“I came here ahead of Shavuot because I knew you wouldn’t be home and that your parents will be missing you… Thank you! Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Rivlin. “Nechama, my wife of blessed memory, would go between security forces who had stayed back to guard us on holiday and give them a slice of her famous cheesecake. And I’m here to carry on her tradition.”

Rivlin noted in his comments that many of the parents missing the soldiers during the holiday are caught in the conflict too as Gaza terrorists fire rockets at Israeli civilians, noting “the home front has become the front-line.”

However, he told those manning the Iron Dome—which consistently intercepts incoming missiles aimed at Israeli cities—that they are “the irrefutable answer” that Israel’s civilians “can live safely and know that they are being protected.”

Said Rivlin, “I came here and see that the guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers. You are the guardians of our walls. I saw the professionalism with which you are running this campaign, and I am proud of you. All of Israel trusts you.”

While visiting the Iron Dome battery, Rivlin also used the IDF communications network to share a holiday message with all IDF soldiers engaged in the conflict. “No words can express the appreciation and love we have for you. Today, you won’t be sitting around the holiday table with your families, but the whole Israeli people is with you. You make it possible for us, all of us, to enjoy a happier, safer holiday,” Rivlin was quoted in the press release as saying.

“Through you, I would like to thank all IDF soldiers and security forces. You are our light, you are our pride, you are in our hearts at every moment. On behalf of the entire Israeli people, I would like to say thank you. Take care of yourselves, my dears, and take care of us. We trust you.”

IDF Col. Moran Omer, commander of the operations unit in the command center at the Kirya General Staff HQ base, thanked the president for his words and highlighted the IDF’s sacred view of defending the nation. Said Col. Omer in the press release, “We see protecting and defending Israel as a great privilege during this complex time and take this opportunity to wish you and all Israel a happy Shavuot holiday, as much quiet as possible.”

Rivlin wasn’t the only Israeli leader who was highlighting the Shavuot holiday during the latest Gaza conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments to the nation on Sunday published by his office, noted a teaching from the historic Jewish sage Rashi that when Israel received the Ten Commandments they did so “as one person, with one heart.”

Said Netanyahu, “Thus we stand today—as one person, with one heart, with one heart in the fight for our state, one heart behind our soldiers, and one heart for our security and our future.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 16, 2021)

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